Non-western Spiritual Traditions (Philosophy) (Spezielle Gebiete der Digitalen Medien (MW))
Meditation and Mindfulness: Theory and Practice (Philosophy) (Media Theory)
Kurs Nr.: DM.B-MA-2 (MW)
Semester: WS 2021/22
Spirituality and mysticism can be understood in different ways, but here we regard them, according to the German philosopher Ernst Tugendhat, as constituting a fundamental anthropological feature and as a necessary condition for the flourishing of human beings, whether individually or collectively. It is not surprising that the crisis of our time - expressed in different dimensions: political, moral, religious, environmental, existential - has resulted in a return to the search for a spiritual meaning in existence, which has often taken the form of a search for insights from non-Western traditions about things which have become particularly elusive to the West.
In this seminar we will address four great non-Western spiritual traditions, namely, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Universal Sufism and elements of the spirituality of the indigenous peoples of America. The goal is to approach these traditions and their respective texts as individuals interested in our own spirituality and not only from a merely academic angle. To accomplish this, drawing on Plato and Foucault, we will begin by asking ourselves how the concept of spirituality from a Western perspective is to be understood. We will then move on to a careful reading of representative texts of each of the aforementioned traditions in order to gain a deeper understanding of their general ideas and their specific components. Finally, we will also try to establish bridges between these four traditions with the purpose of identifying the common and distinctive elements of human spirituality. We will read texts by Kodo Sawaki, Jalaluddin Rumi, Hazrat Inayat Khan, of North American indigenous chiefs, such as "Chief Seattle", "Sitting Bull", "Tatanga Mani" and "White Cloud", and the [i]Hua Hu Ching[/i], a text preserved in the oral Taoist tradition, among others. The syllabus with a detailed list of the texts will be provided in the first session.
Kurs Nr.: DM.M-MT
Semester: WS 2021/22
In the last 30 or 40 years, meditative or mindfulness practices, whose most recognized origin is usually traced to eastern traditions, have generated much interest in different areas of Western thought and life, including neurosciences and cognitive sciences, mental health, education and even business. Laypeople, too, have shown a keen interest in learning these types of practices and in incorporating them into their lives for different reasons, from spiritual and personal development to improved performance in work, production, arts, and sports.
In this seminar we will seek to understand, first of all, what the concept of mindfulness refers to, and how we can understand the idea of a meditative practice in general. We will do so through a phenomenological approach that allows us to describe, with reference to our own internal experience, the different attentional and attitudinal configurations relevant to the understanding of the phenomenon of mindfulness. To this end, we will be assisted by the reading of some influential texts about meditation and mindfulness by authors from the Buddhist tradition (Thich Nhat Hanh, Kosho Uchiyama, Pema Chödrön, Jack Kornfield), also incorporating some general background from Western scientific research (Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dan Siegel, Andrew Olendzki, James Carmody). At the same time, the seminar will allocate an important part of each session to the guided practice of different forms of meditation, so that students can become familiar with them, thereby having an experiential basis for the discussion of the texts to be addressed. This seminar is aimed at students who, without having knowledge or experience in the practice of meditation, wish to get started. But it is also aimed at those who already have some theoretical and experiential background and yet want to deepen their practice and knowledge through a conversation and joint practice around the concrete meaning of meditation as a spiritual practice. The syllabus with a detailed list of the texts will be provided in the first session.